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The Manhunt for Christopher Dorner
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12-15-2013, 02:52 PM
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The Manhunt for Christopher Dorner
LA Times 5 part series on the hunt for Christopher Dorner, ex-LAPD cop-killer. Really good read.
The man emerged from a charcoal-gray pickup and approached the hotel check-in counter. He wanted a room and the Internet pass code. He was 6 feet tall, with a weightlifter’s build and military posture. But he could transform his soft, round face into a picture of amiability. He struck the night manager as personable and disarming. |
Inside Room 116 of the Hi View Inn & Suites in Manhattan Beach, he stared at his Facebook page and a lifetime’s worth of grudges. It is not clear how long he had labored on the unusual document on the screen.
It was a rambling, free-associating screed in which he asserted firm opinions on politicians, journalists, comedians and television shows. It was a brew of hatreds, a sustained cry of self-pity and self-justification, and a blueprint.
One touch of a button would make it public, once people knew where to look.
It was 1:15 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 4.
Hours earlier, Irvine Police Det. Victoria Hurtado was crouched in the evening chill, studying an enormous diamond ring on a dead woman’s hand. It was one of her first clues. “This is not a robbery,” she thought.
The victim was in the passenger seat of a white Kia Optima, parked on the rooftop lot of an upmarket condo complex on Scholarship Drive. She was Asian, in a pretty blue dress. Beside her, a young black man was slumped over the steering wheel. Both were riddled with bullets, with fatal shots to the back of their heads.
Stepping carefully amid 14 shell casings scattered on the pavement, Hurtado noticed powder burns around the bullet holes in the windows. It was a close-range ambush, and as cold a scene as the detective had seen in 17 years on the force.
There was no evidence of a fight. It was as if the killer, possessed by an impersonal fury, had not known the victims at all.
Hurtado looked up at the high-rise apartments that towered above the garage. Hundreds of people would have had a plain view of the shooting, if they had peered out their windows. Hundreds should have heard it.
Five floors below, news crews were assembling. Murder was startling news in Irvine, which boasted of being America’s safest midsized city — 65 square miles of gleaming corporate parks and master-planned neighborhoods.
Just after midnight, the department received a call. It was from Randal Quan, a retired Los Angeles Police Department captain. He had seen the news and recognized the condo complex. His 28-year-old daughter, Monica, lived there with her 26-year-old fiance, Keith Lawrence.
Quan had grown increasingly worried. He had been trying to call his daughter. She was not answering. He came to the Irvine police station with his wife and grown son. They were a close family. Detectives led them to a private interview room.
Quan described his daughter. He had seen her earlier that day. She had been wearing a blue dress.
Neither Monica Quan nor Keith Lawrence seemed capable of making an enemy.
He had been a security officer at USC. She had coached women’s basketball at Cal State Fullerton.
A few days earlier, Lawrence had asked her to close her eyes as he led her into their condo. He had arranged rose petals on the carpet in the shape of a heart. He knelt and asked her to marry him.
“There’s no one more right for us than each other,” he told her, in a scene captured on tape by her brother. “You are my winning lottery ticket.”
Perhaps because she had grown up as a police captain’s daughter, she was guarded about her personal life, even with the young women she coached. But before a team trip to San Luis Obispo she had displayed the big diamond engagement ring and enjoyed the screams of excitement.
Detectives considered every possible theory. They scoured police logs for reports of road rage, on the chance that an aggrieved driver had followed the young couple home. They talked to neighbors and friends, co-workers and family members.
They asked Randal Quan who might want to hurt his daughter. He had been the first Chinese American captain at the LAPD, and had run a squad targeting Asian gangs. In recent years, he had worked as a lawyer representing cops facing termination.
Did someone hate him enough to do this? Someone he had busted? A disgruntled client?
Quan struggled. He could think of no one. He saw himself as a cop who had been respectful to people he arrested. Even losing clients knew he had fought for them.
No one had heard anything. A police canvas of the condominium complex and surrounding buildings confirmed that baffling fact.
The couple had pulled onto the rooftop during the final dramatic minutes of the Super Bowl, when traffic was light. The entry gate recorded their arrival about 7:30 p.m. But police had not learned about the shootings until 9:10 p.m., when a resident walking to his car spotted a body slumped over the Kia’s steering wheel.
Who were they dealing with? A professional hit man? The mob?
How had 14 shots gone unheard? Had everybody been that fixated on the game?
Det. Hurtado would have to wait for ballistics tests to be sure, but she began to suspect that the killer had used a silencer. It was an expensive piece of equipment, the province of Hollywood spies and assassins, not real-world killers.
The possibility carried with it a sense of dread. Who were they dealing with? A professional hit man? The mob?
As the department’s 18-member detective squad scrambled after leads, an investigator visited Cal State Fullerton and found a compelling clue — its significance clear only in hindsight — that someone had been stalking Monica Quan.
A few days earlier, a man had called the athletic department from a blocked number. He said his daughter played for the women’s basketball team, but he was unable to reach her because her cellphone was not working.
He asked for the name of the hotel the team was using during its trip to San Luis Obispo. The request was refused. Would he care to give a callback number? The man hung up.
National City, Calif.
About 100 miles south of Irvine, Pedro Ruelas, 32, arrived at Sound Solutions Auto Styling to open for business Monday morning.
Some DUI arrests had cost him his job driving forklifts years back, by his account, and now he worked seven days a week at the small auto-repair lot in downtown National City, a few miles north of the Mexican border. He was the first one in, last one out.
And so, as he did every morning, Ruelas emptied the garbage, wheeling one of the gray trash cans to a small graffiti-scrawled garbage bin in the alley next to the lot.
As he approached the bin, he noticed what looked like police or military equipment lying atop the heap. Most striking was a steel-plated ballistic vest. The shape reminded him of the emblem on Superman's chest.
His first thought was that he might be able to sell the gear. But he reconsidered: The police might want to know about so unusual a find. He flagged down the first cop he saw.
Officer Paul Hernandez pulled on latex gloves and began to look.
One ballistic vest.
Two military-style ammunition cans, each with several hundred bullets.
Two cans of olive-drab spray paint, the kind SWAT members use to camouflage their helmets and rifles.
One military-surplus gasoline container, plastic, empty.
Two mortar-tube containers, empty. One black leather police duty belt, with thigh holsters and an expandable baton.
Two AR-15 magazine pouches.
One dark blue LAPD uniform, extra large.
Watch: Evidence discovered in National City dumpster
“When I looked inside the dumpster, I saw that there was a LAPD uniform that had the nameplate of Dorner on it.”— National City Police Officer Paul Hernandez
One police officer’s field notebook, with a cover bearing two handwritten names and serial numbers:
Hernandez placed the gear carefully in his squad car and drove to the station house.
He carried the equipment downstairs to the property room and began labeling the items for storage. Another officer might have simply filed a Found Property report and forgotten about it.
Hernandez feared that another cop had been the victim — that someone had stolen the equipment and dumped it in a panic.
At 10:16 a.m. he told the dispatcher to call the LAPD to run down the names and numbers on the notebook.
The answer came back quickly. There was no Dorner now on the force. But there was an Evans.
In keeping with her prework ritual, Teresa Evans had driven to the beach that Monday morning, drank a leisurely cup of coffee and read the Los Angeles Times on her iPad. She saw a brief story about the double homicide in Irvine.
Evans was 48, with short, dyed blond hair, an 18-year veteran of the LAPD. She was a field sergeant, athletically built but physically unimposing, five feet tall, 115 pounds. On the street, her bulky utility belt made her seem even smaller.
Off duty, she spent much of her time hauling her teenage son and his teammates to soccer practice.
Right now, as she was preparing for her late-morning run on the beach, her phone rang.
“I’m just calling about some property,” Officer Hernandez said.
She listened to the strange account of the discarded items. No, she said, she had not been the victim of a theft.
She heard the name Dorner. Anxiety gripped her.
Christopher Dorner had been her trainee six years ago, she said, a problem cop who had been fired. She had no clue where he was now, or why his gear would be in a National City trash bin.
She and Dorner had shared a patrol car in San Pedro, near the ports. He had been a probationary officer just back from a year overseas with the Navy.
She thought little of his abilities. He was sloppy and ham-fisted. He had accidentally shot himself in the hand at the Police Academy. Once, responding to a “man with a gun” call, he had walked directly toward the suspect without seeking cover.
He told Evans that the LAPD had discriminated against him as a black man, and that he intended to sue. He wept in the patrol car. She saw him as unstable, perpetually angry and frustrated, eager to see racism in every encounter.
Dorner was deemed a liar and fired.
After she warned him that he needed to improve his policework, Dorner filed a complaint that she had kicked a handcuffed, mentally ill man in the head and chest during an arrest outside a hotel. During the resulting internal investigation, Evans was put on desk duty and prevented from working overtime or off-duty security jobs. She described the ordeal as a “nightmare.”
The LAPD interviewed hotel employees, who said they had seen none of the alleged kicks. The LAPD found it fatal to Dorner’s credibility that he had waited two weeks after the incident before complaining.
He sat before a Board of Rights hearing in December 2008, accused of making the story up. That session took place on the fifth floor of the Bradbury Building downtown, a place informally called “The Ovens.” It is where, police said, they went to get burned.
Dorner was deemed a liar and fired. Evans knew he held her responsible. She recalled the way he had looked at her during the hearing.
It was not a scowl, not a grimace of anger, but something spookier. Her lawyer described it as the “stare of somebody whose mind is racing 100 miles an hour.”
Armed guards stood watch as Dorner was led from the building.
For the next six months, she had carried her service Glock everywhere. She wore it to the bathroom, to the grocery store, to her son’s soccer games. When she drove home, she circled the block to make sure Dorner wasn’t following her, or waiting to ambush her.
Sooner or later, she believed, he would try to find her.
Evans said goodbye to the National City officer and hung up. She was no longer in the mood for her morning run. She wasn’t sure what to do with the information he had given her, or what it might mean.
She supervised the graveyard shift on Venice Beach that night, the phone call never far from her thoughts.
Point Loma, Calif.
“Is anybody going out?”
The man asking the question stood on a weather-beaten old pier at Driscoll’s Wharf, amid the motley fleet of squid and swordfish boats in Point Loma. It was Tuesday morning.
Dockhand Jeremy Smith noticed the stranger’s shaved head, military boots and hulking size, and thought he must be from Naval Base San Diego, a few miles south. He did not look like the ordinary visitor. Big black dude, he thought. That’s way out of place.
Smith, 41, found the stranger friendly and likable.
He did not seem like the hard men he had met during his stints in lockup for DUI arrests, nor like the men he lived with now at a halfway house.
The big stranger gave his name as Mike, and said he would soon be sent to war in Afghanistan. He wanted to get in some fishing first. He was willing to pay $200 to fish in Mexican waters.
Smith thought he should help a man heading to war. He led him around the docks, past the stacks of steel-mesh lobster cages and piles of netting, looking for a boat.
Nobody was going out for marlin and swordfish; the water was cold, the fish lethargic. One captain found it odd that a man headed to war would want to spend time fishing, rather than with a woman.
Why not a sport boat? Smith asked the stranger. Why not whale-watching?
“I don’t want to whale-watch,” the stranger replied.
The stranger disappeared and came back with a bag of yellowtail and halibut tacos.
He passed them out to the men on Pier 6 and refused to take their money.
Smith explained that he couldn’t take him out on the water himself, because the terms of his jail release didn’t allow him to leave the harbor. He couldn’t risk being spotted by the Harbor Patrol.
“Nazis,” Smith said.
The stranger sympathized. He had a friend who had been fired from the police force, he said, and he didn’t like cops.
That afternoon, Teresa Evans drove to the LAPD’s Pacific Area station to begin her overnight shift. She suited up and led roll call for the eight officers under her command. She and her crew headed to their cars, preparing their gear.
She overheard a group of cops chatting nearby. The subject was an officer’s upcoming disciplinary hearing. The officer needed strong representation, someone said — a good lawyer like Randal Quan, the former LAPD captain turned attorney.
Quan wouldn’t be available any time soon, another cop said.
“His daughter was murdered.”
The hair prickled on the back of Evans’ neck. She felt vaguely sick.
Until now, she hadn’t known that the young woman shot to death in Irvine two nights ago had been Quan’s daughter.
She remembered that Quan had represented Dorner at his Board of Rights hearing, and she knew that Dorner had blamed everyone involved for his firing, including his lawyer. Was there a connection, somehow, to the stash of Dorner’s gear in the trash bin?
This might be crazy.”
— LAPD Sgt. Teresa Evans
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It was a busy night on the Venice beach detail. Fights, drunks, homeless calls. But her mind returned repeatedly to the possibility that Dorner had killed the young Irvine couple.
No, she told herself. It’s too much of a long-shot.
At the station house that night, she paused in her paperwork and told another cop, “Let me run this by you.”
The other cop listened and said, “You’ve got to call.”
By 11:15 p.m. Evans was on the phone with the Irvine Police Department’s watch commander, who called the home of the detective-squad sergeant, who promptly called Evans to hear her story.
“This might be crazy,” she began.
Det. Hurtado arrived at the Irvine station before dawn Wednesday. Her sergeant held out a piece of yellow notebook paper bearing Christopher Dorner’s name.
Hurtado ran it through the databases. He had no criminal record. He was a Navy reservist. He owned a Nissan Titan pickup. He had a house in Las Vegas. He had a mother and sister in La Palma, south of Los Angeles. He owned a lot of guns, including 9-millimeter Glocks. The shell casings at the murder scene had been 9-millimeter.
Watch: No immediate leads in a double homicide
“He had, in a sense, now declared war on law enforcement.”— Irvine Det. Victoria Hurtado
She sent two detectives to National City to examine Dorner’s gear. They learned that an employee at a second auto shop — just down the alley from the first — had found more of Dorner’s equipment in a trash bin. A SWAT-style helmet. A military-style backpack. A magazine with 9-millimeter bullets.
Detectives located a surveillance camera that showed Dorner pulling into the alley in his Titan early Monday, the morning after the shootings. He could be seen climbing out to toss away the items. He seemed to be in no rush.
He had picked an alley in plain view of the National City police station, as if he had hoped to be spotted and confronted.
Back in Irvine, detectives drafted search warrants for Dorner’s home and his mother’s home. If they found him, they were intent on taking him in. But they were not sure they had enough to charge him with murder.
They sought a stopgap measure, to hold him as the case was being built. They found it in the expandable baton Dorner had cast away. He could be charged with possession of a prohibited weapon. When he lost his badge, he had lost his right to carry it.
Hurtado placed calls to the LAPD, trying to find Dorner’s personnel file. She kept getting voice mails. People were out of the office, or on vacation.
She left her call-back number, and tried to keep the details vague. She had no contacts at the LAPD; as far as she knew, Dorner might still have friends there. If she didn’t proceed cautiously, someone might alert him to her interest.
Then she called Randal Quan, and asked:
Does the name Christopher Dorner mean anything to you?
This is a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete... ”
— Christopher Dorner
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She heard silence. Then she heard him gasp and say, “Oh my God. That guy’s crazy.”
Quan explained that he had represented Dorner at his Board of Rights hearing. He said Dorner had blamed him for his firing and was a man obsessed with the concept of his own integrity. He possessed “kind of a hero syndrome,” Quan said.
In her notebook, the detective wrote:
Hurtado called one of the slain couple’s friends. During the conversation, an email arrived on her desktop computer. It was from a detective down the hall conducting a Web search. It had a link to Dorner’s Facebook page.
“From: Christopher Jordan Dorner
“Subj: Last resort
Read Dorner’s manifesto »
“I know most of you who personally know me are in disbelief to hear from media reports that I am suspected of committing such horrendous murders and have taken drastic and shocking actions in the last couple of days,” the posting began.
“Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete for substantial change to occur within the LAPD and reclaim my name. The department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days. It has gotten worse....”
It was 1:59 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 6. Hurtado hung up and called Quan to tell him he was in danger.
Dozens of detectives were getting the same email, reading it on desktops and smartphones. Down the hall, Irvine’s police chief was meeting with his command staff. The detective sergeant ran over and stuck his head in.
“I need some help,” he said.
The rest of it can be read here: The Manhunt for Christopher Dorner - Los Angeles Times
| This post thanked by: || | 604dragon
, Red 5
12-15-2013, 05:55 PM
Cant Stop Modding Fat Cars w/ Cheap Pasts!
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oh yeah i forgot about this guy
12-15-2013, 07:07 PM
I want to be a person and not an icon.
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Subbed for shitter readings
12-15-2013, 07:41 PM
My homepage has been set to RS
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Good read. Im not sure about the back stories of other people regarding this situation though...seems a bit manufactured
12-15-2013, 10:01 PM
My homepage has been set to RS
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Read the entire thing - I'm sure it's written in such a style to invoke more drama and emotion...however, still a good read.
12-15-2013, 11:39 PM
Captain Happy Bubble is my Homeboy
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12-16-2013, 12:56 AM
RS controls my life!
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cliff's doesn't do the story justice. read the damn thing.
very powerful creative non-fiction here.. yes; dramatized.. but still powerful.
12-16-2013, 01:01 AM
The Brown Reason
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Originally Posted by dee242
Originally Posted by bcrdukes
fuck this shit, i'm out
12-16-2013, 07:16 AM
I *heart* Revscene.net very Muchie
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12-16-2013, 10:53 AM
I contribute to threads in the offtopic forum
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12-16-2013, 10:57 AM
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'Dont corner the Dorner' lol
Did you guys read the massive Dorner Manifesto he wrote before all the stuff went down?
12-16-2013, 05:20 PM
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Thanks, but fucking spoiler that shit. Scrolling for a fucking hour.
12-16-2013, 05:52 PM
OMGWTFBBQ is a common word I say everyday
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Good read.. wonder when the movie is coming out.
If you drive like an asshole, you probably are one.
12-16-2013, 06:06 PM
Los Bastardo owned my ass at least once
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Niebaum set him up tho
12-18-2013, 04:33 PM
14 dolla balla aint got nothing on me!
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Good read. Read the whole thing and it's definitely something to consider looking through if you're bored or you have nothing else to do.
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